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Emerald cancels 2019 Interbike show

Published December 6, 2018

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (BRAIN) — Emerald Expositions has canceled the 2019 edition of the Interbike trade show, saying the event might return in a more modest format in 2020. Emerald also has laid off several Interbike employees here, including show director Justin Gottlieb and sales director Andria Klinger.

“We have made the decision not to proceed with the event that had been scheduled for Reno in 2019,” Darrell Denny, the executive vice president at Emerald Expositions, told BRAIN Thursday afternoon.

Denny said Emerald had been surveying retailers and suppliers since the close of the 2018 show in September, and concluded that if Interbike has a future, it would be as a more affordable event for all involved.

“We are not going to bake the same cake again,” Denny said.

“It became pretty clear (after surveying the industry this fall) that the market has changed quite a bit. We need to look at how we can serve the market in a pretty different way. It will have to be pretty cost-efficient, with inexpensive travel. … As we got closer to the end of the year, we realized that companies needed to be able to budget for it, so we wanted to reach out before the end of the year,” he said.

He said Emerald will consider inviting bike vendors to attend its other sports trade shows, which include the Outdoor Retailer shows.

Gottlieb and Klinger, along with Interbike’s marketing manager, Jack Morrissey and senior art director, Andy Buckner, will remain with the company until Dec. 31, Denny said. In an unrelated move, Lori Jenks is also leaving Emerald. Jenks is senior vice president of Emerald’s trade show operations and works out of the San Juan Capistrano office where Interbike is based.

“We are not going to bake the same cake again,” Denny said.

Interbike has been a major contributor to industry nonprofits, and the show's absence from the calendar will mean a hit to those groups’ budgets for at least a year. The show pays hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to PeopleForBikes through a long-standing agreement tied to the amount of exhibitor space sold at the show each year. Interbike also contributes to the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association and the National Bicycle Dealers Association.

A scene from the 2018 show in Reno.

Emerald notified the three nonprofits on Thursday that it would not be making sponsorship payments in 2019.

Emerald had varying agreements with each organization, but in general all of them involved a mutual endorsement and sponsorship, not a regular dues payment like other industry suppliers have with the groups.

“There are different triggers for each, but for all three we are going to suspend funding until we’re able to come back with a plan (for a new show), since we are not going to have any revenue next year,” Denny said.

Denny said consolidation on the supplier and retail side has contributed to Interbike’s woes.

“There are about 4,000 retail stores now, and arguably about half of them are doing business predominantly with one commanding brand. ... That’s a pretty big factor,” he said.

Denny also said tariffs on China-made products contributed to the decision. "The substantial increase in tariffs on bike-related imports during 2018, and announced for 2019, is compounding these challenges," he said.

Long history

In 1982, Steve Ready and Herb Wetenkamp launched Interbike, holding the first show in Las Vegas. At the time, there were several industry trade shows, but they were all held in the winter. Ready thought the industry needed a show in the fall, in the preseason. The show drew some 150 exhibitors in its first year. While it struggled in its early years, Interbike enjoyed good dealer turnout and later moved to Reno, Nevada, then Anaheim, California, and then back to Las Vegas. It also expanded to the East Coast with shows in Philadelphia and Atlantic City in the 1990s.

After many years in Las Vegas, Interbike uprooted to Reno for its 2018 edition, a move that received mixed reviews and mediocre attendance from retailers and exhibitors. Reno freshened Interbike’s look, reduced some costs, and gave the show access to a better location and climate for its outdoor bike demo. But it could not overcome the larger forces allied against the show. In a trend that started over a decade ago, increasingly the largest bike suppliers are skipping Interbike in favor of their own dealer shows, leaving Interbike without its anchoring exhibitors and discouraging dealer attendance. At the same time, startup suppliers increasingly are focused on establishing sales through non-IBD channels, making a dealer show less attractive.

Many suppliers have shifted their budgets to events like the Sea Otter Classic and the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, where they can meet with consumers, the media and some trade partners for a lower cost. Those looking to meet with retailers in the off season have moved to regional shows including CABDA, which will hold a show in Southern California in January next year in addition to its Chicago-area show in February.

Interbike had four years left on a five-year agreement with the Reno-Sparks Convention Center and other vendors in the Reno area. Denny said extricating the show from those contracts will be “somewhat painful.”

Emerald owns Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, which is operated under license by the NBDA. Emerald, which is publicly traded on the NYSE, officially announced the decision Thursday evening in a press release.

In an unrelated move, Emerald announced Wednesday that it is shortening two of its three Outdoor Retailer trade shows, making its fall and summer shows just three days, instead of four. OR’s winter Snow Show is remaining three days as originally planned.

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